If I’m honest, they had me at sourdough. I’m a sucker for the deliciously flavoursome, crisp, yet chewy bread.
The only way to top it (sorry) would be to add cheese, veg and meat to create a delicious sourdough pizza.
Enter Franco Manca, one of the latest additions to the burgeoning dining scene in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square. This chain of pizzerias has squillions of branches in and around London and in lots of English cities, as well as one in Italy, but this is their first foray into Scotland.
The décor is simple with no frills and a large open kitchen where you can watch the pizza chefs at work, spinning freshly-made dough.
The kitchen is dominated by a huge pizza oven that cooks at a temperature of around 450C, ensuring the perfect base and crust. The menu is simple and we looked no further than the pizza column and the specials board, where you can choose from a veggie or meat special and a few tempting extra toppings which can be added to any pizza.
I plumped for the veggie special (£8.90) with British mozzarella, a light organic tomato base, roasted aubergines, peppers and potatoes cooked with onions. The base was perfectly crisp and puffed up around the edges, the cheese creamy and the peppers sweet and juicy.
Franco Manca’s mantra is that you should always eat your crusts, or cornicione. I might have mentioned earlier that I have a bit of a thing for sourdough so there was little chance of mine ending up in the bin.
But we decided to order all three of the dips available to add a little interest to the edges. The stilton dip was packed with blue cheese flavour and went down a storm, the pesto was deliciously fresh and the chilli dip proved just too spicy – definitely not one for the faint-hearted!
My fellow Scottish Field team members chose from the main menu, one picking a Franco Manca favourite of roasted, cured ham, mozzarella, ricotta and wild mushroom pizza (£7.95) with added rocket and the other choosing a pizza created for Franco Manca by Michelin-starred Italian chef Roy Caceres (£9.00).
This was a fab combo of lightly spiced Ventricina salami, green peppers from Vesuvio, mozzarella, wild mizuna and rocket. The options to embellish the pizzas with your own choice of toppings from the specials board ensures there’s always going to be something new to try.
Gluten free bases and vegan cheese mean there’s dining options for everyone.
The wine list comprises a small selection of Italian organic or biodynamic wines, all under £25 a bottle and we were more than happy with our waiter’s recommendation of Insolia – Tenute Normanno at just £16.50 a bottle.
Our pizzas soon vanished, along with any hope of fitting in a pudding or any of the tempting extra sharing bites. Giving us a great excuse to go back and maybe share a pizza and try some garlic bread, aubergine parmigiana, cured meats or spicy sausage.
Franco Manca translates into English as Franco is missing, and I reckon this traditional Neopolitan-style pizzeria is exactly what the capital has been lacking.
Franco Manca, The Mint Building, 19-23 South St Andrew Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AU
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